TOO many Covid-19 restrictions are still imposed in University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) limiting access for partners, the Irish Birth Movement (IBM) has claimed.
The Irish Birth Movement staged a protest calling for maternity restrictions to be lifted immediately outside University Maternity Hospital Limerick recently.
A group of women, including mothers, midwives, doulas and other birth activists have protested at various locations nationwide in recent weeks.
Leigh Brosnan of the IBM said there are still too many restrictions being imposed in UMHL.
She said that partners were still not allowed to be present in the early stages of labour in UMH and can’t attend for early scans when bad news is sometimes delivered to a couple.
Ms Brosnan said a few weeks ago, a woman who attended the protest had a miscarriage on her own without her partner, which was very distressing for her.
Stating more creative solutions must be introduced in UMH to increase access for partners, she referred to World Health Organisations guidelines that a woman has a right to her chosen partner’s presence throughout the duration of her pregnancy, labour, and birth.
She pointed out that partners are not visitors they are an essential part of the process and support needs of the woman.
“In line with the policies in other countries such as the UK and aligned with recent changes
in Irish hospitals such as the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, the group are looking for changes to ensure partners can attend booking scans and all other antenatal appointments.
The group wants partners to visit the antenatal ward, visit the maternity ward after the birth and during the postpartum period br present continuously throughout labour and birth and have unlimited visitation to the neonatal unit.
The UL Hospitals’ Group has stated nominated partners were given 45-minute visiting slots in UMHL from Monday, May 10 as Covid-19 restrictions eased.
Partners will be able to visit in postnatal wards, M1 and M2, between the hours of 6pm and 8pm daily.
This follows the recent reintroduction of the option to have nominated partners present for anomaly scans, and visiting for fathers/parents of babies in the neonatal unit at the hospital.
Meanwhile, visiting on compassionate grounds will continue to be facilitated, as it has been throughout the pandemic. Birthing partners will also continue to be supported in attending the Labour Ward and theatre.
All nominated partners must adhere to the wearing of face masks, observe hand hygiene and social distancing. Temperature monitoring is in place at the main reception, along with the completion of a Covid-19 screening questionnaire.
The measures are subject to change, and hospital management will continue to review the situation on a weekly basis, to plan for the safe, controlled and phased relaxation of restrictions, and to ensure all processes are safely introduced and managed.
Eileen Ronan, Director of Midwifery at UL Hospitals’ Group, said: “Risk assessment has been continuing, and we’re pleased to be in a position to reintroduce these 45-minute visiting slots for partners of women on the postnatal wards from May 10th.
“Visiting restrictions, while necessary during the pandemic, have been very difficult, both for women attending the hospital and their partners and loved ones, and we are delighted to be able to safely permit these postnatal visiting slots, which will allow parents and their children to be closer at this most important time in their lives,” Ms Ronan added.
In taking the decision to implement or relax restrictions, UMHL, like all maternity hospitals, has regard to three primary factors: the rate of Covid-19 transmission within the local community, the number of staff in the hospital and the possibility of those staff becoming unwell, and the infrastructure of the hospital site.
UMHL is acting in accordance with the advice of the National Women and Infant’s Health Programme, whose clinical director Dr Peter McKenna has expressed hope that the decrease in community transmission, allied with immunisation of hospital staff, would enable the country’s maternity hospitals to relax access restrictions over the coming weeks.